2004 IDA Distinguished Documentary Achievement Awards: Winners

From Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman's <em>Born Into Brothels</em>

FEATURE DOCUMENTARIES

Born into Brothels

Directors/Producers/Cinematographers: Zana Briski, Ross Kauffman
Editors: NancyBaker, Ross Kauffman
Composer: John McDowell
Executive Producer: Geralyn White Dreyfous
Co-Executive Producer: Pamela Boll
THINKFilm, HBO Cinemax Documentary Films

The most stigmatized people in Calcutta's red light district are not the prostitutes, but their children. In the face of abject poverty, abuse and despair, these kids have little possibility of escaping their mother's fate or for creating another type of life. In Born into Brothels, directors Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman chronicle the amazing transformation of the children they come to know in the red light district. Briski, a professional photographer, gives them lessons and cameras, igniting latent sparks of artistic genius that reside in these children. Their photographs are not merely examples of remarkable observation and talent; they reflect something much larger, morally encouraging and even politically volatile: art as an immensely liberating and empowering force.

ZANA BRISKI was born in London, England. After earning a master's degree in theology and religious studies at University of Cambridge, she studied documentary photography at International Center of Photography in New York. She has won numerous awards and fellowships including an Open Society Institute Fellowship, an Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, a Howard Chapnick Grant for the Advancement of Photojournalism and First Prize at the World Press Photo Foundation Competition. In 2002 Briski formed Kids with Cameras, a nonprofit organization to help educate the children of Calcutta's prostitutes and to empower other marginalized children worldwide through learning the art of photography.

ROSS KAUFFMAN worked as a documentary film editor from 1992 to 2000, editing films for HBO, PBS, National Geographic and Discovery Channel, among others. In 2000, he began working as a director of photography on Family Stories, a film about an extended African-American family separated by geographic, social and economic lines. He recently began producing and directing independent documentaries. In 2002, Briski and Kauffman were awarded grants from the Sundance Institute, the Jerome Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts for their film Born into Brothels.

 

Fahrenheit 9/11

From Michael Moore's <em>Fahrenheit 9/11</em>

Director/Producer/Writer: Michael Moore
Producers: Kathleen Glynn, Jim Czarnecki
Cinematographer: Mike Desjarlais
Editors: Kurt Engfehr, Christopher Seward, T. Woody Richman
Composer: Jeff Gibbs
Dog Eat Dog Films, Lions Gate Films, IFC Films, The Fellowship Adventure Group, Sony/Columbia TriStar

Fahrenheit 9/11 is Michael Moore's searing examination of the Bush Administration's actions in the wake of the tragic events of 9/11. With his characteristic humor and dogged commitment to uncovering the facts, Moore looks at how—and why—President George W. Bush and his inner circle avoided pursuing the Saudi Arabian connection to 9/11, and shows us a nation kept in constant fear by FBI alerts and which was lulled into accepting a piece of legislation, the USA Patriot Act, that infringes on basic civil rights. Fahrenheit 9/11 also takes us inside the Iraq war to tell the stories we haven't heard, illustrating the awful human cost to US soldiers and their families.  

MICHAEL MOORE's Fahrenheit 9/11 is the highest grossing documentary (regular format) of all time. His previous film, Bowling for Columbine, earned an Academy Award for Best Documentary of 2002. His other documentaries include The Big One (1998), Pets or Meat: The Return to Flint (1991) and Roger and Me (1989). He also produced two series for television—The Awful Truth (1999-2001), which aired on Bravo, and the Emmy-winning TV Nation (1994-95), which aired on NBC. His best-selling books include Dude, Where's My Country? (2003), Stupid White Men (2002), Downsize This! Random Threats from an Unarmed American (1998) and Adventures in a TV Nation (1995).

 

Honorable Mention:

Control Room

 

Director/Writer: Jehane Noujaim
Producers: Rosadel Varela, Hani Salama
Co-Producers: Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt, Alan Oxman
Supervising Editor: Alan Oxman
Writer/Editor: Julia Bacha
Editors: Lilah Bankier, Charles Marquardt, Mona Eldaief
Executive Producer: Abdallah Schleifer
Magnolia Pictures, Films Transit International

Control Room provides a balanced view of the Qatar-based television channel Al Jazeera's presentation of the second Iraq war to a worldwide Arab audience, and in so doing calls into question many of the prevailing images and positions offered up by the US news media. Control Room's view inside Al Jazeera suggests that its views on news reportage might actually be more in tune with democratic ideals than those of its Western counterparts. Control Room is a rare film that is both timely and timeless—the latter because it explores the ancient and complex relationship between the Western and Arab worlds; the former because it reveals how satellite television has changed the way wars are reported. 

JEHANE NOUJAIM began as a photographer and filmmaker in Cairo, Egypt, where she grew up. She moved to Boston in 1990, where she attended Harvard University, majoring in visual arts and philosophy. She then joined the MTV News and Documentary division as a segment producer for the documentary series Unfiltered. Noujaim went on to produce and direct the award-winning Startup.com in association with Pennebaker Hedgedus Films. She has since worked in both the Middle East and the US as a director and cinematographer on various nbdocumentaries, including Born Rich(Jamie Johnson), Only the Strong Survive (DA Pennebaker, Chris Hegedus) and Down from the Mountain (Pennebaker, Hegedus and Nick Doob).

ROSADEL VARELA has over 10 years of experience in both film and television. Early in her career she worked at MTV Networks in the News and Documentary and Production divisions as a freelance producer. In 1998, she became a member of the Directors Guild of America's Assistant Director Training Program, working alongside such directors as Woody Allen, Penny Marshall, John Singleton and Nicole Holofcener. On the television side, she worked on some of the most successful series in history, including Law & Order and Sex & the City. Varela graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and holds a producers certificate from the Business of Entertainment Program at New York University.

HANI SALAMA is currently completing his master's degree in journalism at the American University in Cairo. He was awarded the prestigious Kamal Adham Fellowship for Television Journalism and has worked as a freelance producer for NBC, CNBC and MBC, and as a cameraman for BBC, CBC and MTV.

 

IDA/ABCNEWS VIDEOSOURCE AWARD

Imelda

 

Director/Producer: Ramona S. Diaz
Cinematographer: Ferne Pearlstein
Editor: Leah Marino
Composers: Grace Nono, Bob Aves
Cinediaz, Inc., Unico Entertainment, Independent Lens/PBS, ITVS, NAATA, Unitel Pictures International

Imelda is a film about how excessive power is amassed and sustained by popular support, and how one woman rationalizes her seemingly unconscionable abuse of such power.  Imelda is the widow of the late Ferdinand Marcos, exiled president of the Philippines who maintained close ties with the US even as he proclaimed martial law in 1972. With her beauty, cosmopolitan bearing, lavish tastes and ruthlessness, Imelda was more famous, and perhaps even more powerful in the end, than her husband. The story is told almost entirely by Imelda, in which she details her controversial rise from humble provincial origins to become arguably one of the richest and most powerful women in contemporary world history.  

RAMONA S. DIAZ's credits include the award-winning Spirits Rising, a documentary about women's role in the 1986 People Power revolution in the Philippines. Prior to pursuing a career as an independent filmmaker, Diaz was an associate producer of Cadillac Desert, a PBS documentary series about the quest for water in the American West. She also line-produced and edited an award-winning, 24-part documentary series in the Philippines—entitled Apple Pie, Patis, Paté, atb—about the immigrant experiences of Filipinos residing in Europe and America. Diaz previously worked for Mary Tyler Moore Productions and Lorimar Productions. She is a graduate of Emerson College and holds an MA in communication from Stanford University.

 

PARE LORENTZ AWARD

Oil on Ice

 

Directors/Producers: Bo Boudart, Dale Djerassi
Cinematographer: Bo Boudart
Editor: Rhonda Collins
Writer: Stephen Most
Composer: William Susman
Executive Producer: Steve Michelson
Oil on Ice Partners

Oil on Ice is a one-hour television documentary/website/DVD that examines the battle over oil development within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This is a classic struggle in a stunning place, featuring the dramatic wildlife that adapted to this environment and the cultures of the Gwich'in Athabascan Indians and Inupiat Eskimos who rely on this wildlife for their subsistence.

BO BOUDART's numerous works include one-hour programs about subjects in Alaska for Discovery Channel, including Alaska's Whales and Wildlife, Deep Under the Ice and Alaska's Arctic Wildlife. He was acknowledged with a National Emmy Award nomination for Best Cinematography for Alaska: Story of a Dream (for syndicated TV), and has produced documentaries on Alaska native subsistence, including The Sea is Our Life, Hunger Knows No Law, Where Two Rivers Meet and The Whale Hunters, a PBS NOVA program.

DALE DJERASSI has produced and directed many film projects, including the documentary films Nada Será Como Antes (Nothing Will Be as It Was) and Bhutan-A Strange Survival. He co-produced (with Barbet Schroeder) Koko-The Talking Gorilla, a documentary about the famed sign language-speaking gorilla. Additionally, Djerassi produced two plays—An Immaculate Misconception at the Eureka Theatre Company in San Francisco and Primary Stages in New York, and Calculus at the Performing Arts Library & Museum in San Francisco.

 

CONTINUING SERIES AWARD

American Masters

 

Series Creator/Executive Producer: Susan Lacy
Series Producer: Prudence Glass
Supervising Producer: Julie Sacks
Episodes submitted:   The Education of Gore Vidal (Deborah Dickson, dir./prod.); None without Sin: Arthur Miller, Elia Kazan and the Blacklist (Michael Epstein, dir./prod.); Judy Garland By Myself (Susan Lacy, dir./prod.; Roger Mayer and George Feltenstein, exec. prods. for Turner Entertainment).
Thirteen/WNET, PBS

American Masters, Thirteen/WNET's award-winning biography series, celebrates America's arts and culture. Launched in 1984 by executive producer Susan Lacy, the series set the standard for documentary film profiles and has since accrued widespread critical acclaim—11 Emmys, six Peabodys, an Oscar and a Grammy. American Masters has produced an exceptional library of more than 130 titles, exploring the lives and illuminating the creative journeys of America's most enduring writers, musicians, visual and performing artists, dramatists and filmmakers-those who have forever changed the definitions and boundaries of their field, leaving an indelible impression on America's cultural landscape.

SUSAN LACY has been an award-winning producer of primetime public television programs for nearly two decades. Her career in public television began as deputy director of performance programs at Thirteen/WNET from 1978-1984. She was senior program executive for the award-winning Great Performances series and worked as director of program development with American Playhouse, where she was an original founding member. Lacy also headed the East Coast office of Robert Redford's Sundance Institute from 1984 to 1987. She was a consulting producer at Time-Life Video during the launch of Time-Warner's new initiatives in original long-form documentary production. Lacy has also run programs for both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

PRUDENCE GLASS began working in public television at Thirteen/WNET in the spring of 2000, fresh from writing and producing AMERICAN MASTERS: Sidney Poitier: One Bright Light, directed by Lee Grant. Coming from a strong background in community-based work and political organizing, Glass previously researched, wrote and co-produced a series of social issue documentary films with Grant, which aired as part of HBO's American Undercover series—When Women Kill, What Sex Am I?, the Academy Award-winning Down and Out in America, Battered and Women On Trial. For the Lifetime channel, Glass collaborated with Grant on Say It! Fight It! Cure It!, about breast cancer, and Bella, a portrait of former Congresswoman Bella Abzug.

JULIE SACKS has been supervising producer of American Masters for the past two years. Prior to joining the staff at Thirteen, she was a freelance documentary film producer and editor for more than 15 years. Her work has appeared on the PBS series American Experience and Frontline. Most recently Sacks co-produced The American Dream, the two-hour pilot episode of The American Novel. Sacks has been part of the producing teams for two Academy Award-nominated documentary features—Sound and Fury (2000) and The Battle over Citizen Kane (1996)—and was director of research for the acclaimed PBS series The Irish in America (1998), for which she received an Emmy Award nomination.

 

Honorable Mention:

CNN Presents

 

Executive Producer: Sid Bedingfield
Episodes Submitted: Easy Prey—Inside the Sex Trade (Liviu Tipurita, Andrew Smith, dirs./prods./cins.); True Believers—Inside the Dean Campaign (Kate Albright-Hanna, Nadia Kounang, prods./cins.; Kimberly Arp-Babbit, Emily Probst, Ted Rubenstein, Ken Shiffman, prods.); Fit to Kill (Candy Crowley, corr.; Andy Segal, sen. prod.)
CNN Productions, CNN

Through powerful storytelling, memorable subjects and thorough journalism, CNN Presents deepens the understanding of viewers worldwide about the people, places and events defining their world. One of the most honored documentary series on television, CNN Presents showcases the global reach and unequaled reportage of the world's news leader. Whether undercover in Afghanistan before 9/11, on the frontlines during the conflict in Iraq, exploring the mystery of Jesus or tackling the devastating child sex trade in Europe, CNN Presents showcases insightful, in-depth programming that enlightens a rapidly changing world.

As senior vice president of CNN Productions since 2002, SID BEDINGFIELD oversees all of CNN News Group's documentary and long-form programming, including the weekly series CNN Presents and People in the News. He previously was executive vice president and general manager of CNN/US, responsible for the network's day-to-day news operation, encompassing all aspects of programming and production, including oversight of CNN.com's US-based operations. Prior to this position, Bedingfield served as executive vice president and senior executive producer of CNN/US, vice president of CNN/US and executive producer of CNN International (CNNI), overseeing the network's live coverage, special programming and production staff. Bedingfield joined CNN in 1986 as a writer.

 

LIMITED SERIES

The New Americans

 

Executive Producer/Director, The Ogoni Story: Steve James
Executive Producer/Co-Director, The Palestinian Story: Gordon Quinn
Series Producer/Producer, The Ogoni Story: Gita Saedi
Director, The Indian Story: Indu Krishnan
Directors, The Dominican Story: Susana Aikin, Carlos Aparicio
Director, The Mexican Story: Renee Tajima-Peña
Co-Director, The Palestinian Story: Jerry Blumenthal
Co-Producer, The Mexican Story: Evangeline Griego
Co-Producer, The Palestinian Story: Fenell Doremus
Series Editors: David E. Simpson, Steve James
Composer: Norman Arnold
Cinematographers: Carlos Aparicio, Steve James, Gordon Quinn, Dana Kupper, Viren Thambidorai, Roddy Blelloch, Scott Sinkler
Kartemquin Films, Roco Films, ITVS/Independent Lens/PBS

What does the "American Dream" look like through the eyes of today's immigrants and refugees? From Nigeria, India, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, they come with different dreams: to achieve athletic glory or high-tech riches, to escape poverty and persecution, to provide for their families. The New Americans follows these newcomers from each of their homelands through their first tumultuous years in America.

STEVE JAMES is the award-winning director, producer and co-editor of Hoop Dreams (1994), which won major documentary prizes, including the Peabody and Kennedy Journalism Awards. His next documentary, Stevie (2003), won major festival awards at Sundance, IDFA, Yamagata and Philadelphia, was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and landed on a dozen "Top Ten Films of the Year" lists. Just completed is Reel Paradise, a documentary on former "indie film guru" John Pierson, who took his family to live in Fiji, where he ran the world's most remote movie theater. Reel Paradise will have its world premiere at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.

President and founding member of Kartemquin Films, GORDON QUINN has been making documentaries for over 35 years. His producing credits include such highly acclaimed films as Hoop Dreams, Vietnam, Long Time Coming, Golub, 5 Girls, Refrigerator Mothers and Stevie, for which he also won the Cinematography Award at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. In 2004, Quinn co-produced Golub: Late Works Are the Catastrophes with long-time collaborator Jerry Blumenthal, revisiting the great American artist 13 years after the award-winning Golub. Quinn is currently executive producing Terra Incognita: Exploration of Territory Unknown, which follows the journey of scientist Jack Kessler, whose quest is to regenerate the nervous system using embryonic stem cells.

GITA SAEDI is an award-winning documentary producer/director who has been working in film for over 10 years. She has been on producing teams for RTE, Channel 4, CBS and PBS. Her projects include 24 short films for the JFK Museum in Boston; No Time To Be a Child, a three-part PBS series on children and violence; The Tourist Trap, a Channel 4 documentary series on cultural differences; and a multi-part series on Celtic heritage. Saedi won numerous awards for her short Everybody Nose and an Emmy directing short vignettes for the regional series Artbeat.

Originally from India, INDU KRISHNAN has produced and directed numerous immigrant-themed works including Knowing Her Place, a portrait of the dynamics between an Indian woman and three generations of her family living in the US and India. She worked collectively on the Gulf Crisis TV Project, a series that critically examined the first US war on Iraq. She has received a Rockefeller Fellowship and grants from the Independent Television Service, the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts. Krishnan is currently working on Monkey Business, a feature film exploring the impact of globalization on Bangalore.

SUSANA AIKIN and CARLOS APARICIO have directed and produced many long-form documentaries dealing with issues of race and migration—In The Land of Plenty, on the life of an undocumented Mexican strawberry picker; The Transformation, which explores AIDS, survival and the religious right through the story of a former homeless prostitute transvestite; The Salt Mines, about a Latino, gay, homeless community living in abandoned garbage trucks by the Hudson River in New York City. The couple has received Rockefeller Fellowships and grants from the American Film Institute, the Lila Wallace/Reader's Digest Fund and the Jerome Foundation, and have won awards at the New York Latino Film & Video Festival, the San Antonio Film Festival and the Havana Film Festival.

RENEE TAJIMA-PEÑA is an Oscar-nominated filmmaker whose works include Who Killed Vincent Chin?, My America...or Honk if You Love Buddha, Labor Women, The Best Hotel on Skid Row and The Last Beat Movie. Her films have premiered at Sundance, Cannes, Toronto, New Director/New Films and the Whitney Bienalle, and broadcast on PBS, HBO, ABC, Lifetime and the Sundance Channel. Her honors include an Alpert Award in the Arts, a Peabody Award, a DuPont Columbia Award and fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation and New York Foundation for the Arts. Currently, Tajima-Peña is helping to launch a Social Documentation Program at University of California, Santa Cruz.

JERRY BLUMENTHAL, a founding partner of Kartemquin Films, has been a director, producer, editor and sound recordist with Kartemquin since 1967. Blumenthal's latest film, Golub: Late Works Are the Catastrophes, will premiere at the 2004 IDFA. Vietnam, Long Time Coming aired on NBC and earned a national Emmy and a Directors Guild of America Award for Best Documentary of 1999. Among his many other films, Blumenthal lists The Last Pullman Car, the two Taylor Chain films and The Chicago Maternity Center Story.

EVANGELINE GRIEGO is a documentary producer whose credits include My Journey Home, Calavera Highway and Border Visions. In 1996, Griego directed the award-wining documentary Paño Arte: Images from Inside. Her extensive production managing and line producing experience includes short and feature films, music videos and PSAs. She has worked with Esparza-Katz Productions, the Getty Center, the Walt Disney Company, Morgan Creek Productions and MGM Studios. Currently, she's producing and directing the documentary God Willing for PBS, about a Bible-based nomadic cult. 

FENELL DOREMUS has worked for over ten years in documentary film, beginning at Kartemquin Films as an assistant editor on the award-winning Hoop Dreams. She was the associate producer of Kartemquin's Five Girls, and a segment producer on CommunityWorks TV, a pilot for a PBS series. She has been a regular producer for WTTW's Emmy Award-winning ArtBeat series and produced, co-directed and edited a special half-hour ArtBeat, A Year on Teen St. Most recently Doremus shot and associate- produced Quiet Strength, a film about Tibetan nuns living in exile in India. While there, she also shot, produced and directed a documentary about an Indian wedding.

 

SHORT DOCUMENTARY

Mighty Times Volume 2: The Children's March

From <em>Mighty Time Volume 2: The Children's March</em>. Courtesy of Tell the Truth Pictures

 

Producers/Directors: Bobby Houston, Robert Hudson
Cinematographers: Geoff George, Geoff Zimmerman
Editors: Mark Brewer, Sean P. Keenan
Composer: Don Davis
Tell The Truth Pictures, HBO

Mighty Times Volume 2: The Children's March is the never-before-told account of the most amazing act of civil disobedience in American history. In 1963, heavy intimidation by Birmingham authorities left Martin Luther King's civil rights movement floundering without supporters, until thousands of children and young students rose up and became the unsung heroes.

ROBERT HUDSON and BOBBY HOUSTON formed their filmmaking partnership in 1997, when they documented a team of men with HIV/AIDS competing in the elite TransPac Yacht race as part of Get Challenged, a nonprofit organization that Hudson had created to empower the millions of Americans with AIDS. The resulting film, Rock the Boat, was shortlisted for an Academy Award. Hudson and Houston later made Little Secret, about another Get Challenged adventure, and A Place at the Table, for Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. In 2003, their documentary Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks was honored with Academy Award and IDA Award nominations. To date, the film has been placed in 50,000 classrooms across America as part of the Teaching Tolerance program.

Honorable Mention

The Life of Kevin Carter

 

Director/Producer/Cinematographer/Writer/Editor: Dan Krauss
Composer: Justin Melland

Kevin Carter was part of a tightly knit band of white South African photojournalists known as "The Bang Bang Club"—four friends who found their calling in the war-ravaged black townships during the bloody end of Apartheid. They were adrenaline junkies on a courageous mission: to get the picture. At any cost. But after Apartheid ended, Carter found himself haunted by his pictures—even the one that won him the Pulitzer Prize. Only weeks after being bestowed with that honor, Kevin carried out a terrible act of desperation—an act that, 10 years later, seems to embody the anguish of an entire nation.

DAN KRAUSS is a documentary film director and cameraman based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Previously, he worked as a photojournalist for eight years, on staff at the Associated Press and at The San Francisco Examiner. During that time he covered major news stories in the US as well as in Africa and the Middle East. His most recent assignment as a documentary cameraman took him back to Africa, this time to the desert plains of Namibia. Krauss was trained in filmmaking at University of California, Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. The Life of Kevin Carter is his first film.

 

IDA/DAVID L. WOLPER STUDENT DOCUMENTARY ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Family Portrait

 

Director/Producer/Writer: Patricia Riggen
Producer: Alvaro Donado
Cinematographer: Checco Varese
Editor: Jose Pelaez
Composer: Rosino Serrano
Columbia University, PR Films

In 1968 Gordon Parks wrote an article for Life magazine on race and poverty in the United States. For his story, Parks photographed the Fontenelle family, a disenfranchised African-American family of 12 living in extreme poverty in a small Harlem apartment. The public's response to the photo essay was so great that Parks worked with Life to purchase the family a home on Long Island. Through interviews with Parks and Richard Fontanelle and Diana Nash—the only surviving family members—we meet two survivors who have struggled confronting the social obstacles of racism, poverty, addiction and AIDS—problems that have ravaged Black communities nationwide.

PATRICIA RIGGEN was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, where she began her film career as a writer for a documentary television series. She later worked as an executive producer for the Mexican Film Institute, where she produced short films, commercials and documentaries. In 2003 she received her MFA in film directing from the Columbia University School of the Arts' Film Division. Her short film La Milpa has screened in 30 international film festivals and has received 20 awards to date, including the 2003 Student Academy Award Gold Medal and the Ariel for Best Short Film at the Mexican Academy Awards. Family Portrait is her first documentary film.

As a graduate student at Columbia University, ALVARO DONADO produced two other short films—Zen and the Art of Landscaping (2001) and La Milpa (2003), both of which earned Student Academy Award Gold Medals; La Milpa also received an Ariel for Best Short Film (Mexico). Donado has received the Arthur Krim Memorial Producing Award, a Hallmark Entertainment Producing Development Award and a College Television Award from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He has just completed his first feature film, Messengers. Prior to producing, he was a partner of a commercial photography studio serving the advertising industry.

 

Honorable Mention

Backseat Bingo

 

Director/Designer/Animator: Liz Blazer
Producer: Allison Hirose
Editor: Peter Alton
Composers: Gordy Haab, Kyle NewMaster
Background Designer: David Galindo
University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television

Sexy Senior Seeks Same. Backseat Bingo is an animated documentary about the romantic  lives of senior citizens.

LIZ BLAZER has worked as an art director on the Palestinian/Israeli Sesame Street, and for two years as a special effects designer at MTV. She recently graduated with an MFA in animation from University of Southern California, where she created her thesis film, Backseat Bingo. Blazer was awarded First Prize in Animation magazine's Student Short Film Awards and the Film and Fiction Scholarship from the Institute for Humane Studies.  She is currently working at Walt Disney Studios, where she is developing characters for a new children's television series.

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